Apparently - despite fervent pleas from the police, MAFF, and farming leaders - these idiots who are protesting against Huntingdon Life Sciences are going ahead with a protest in rural Suffolk, despite the significant risk they might introduce Foot & Mouth into Suffolk. The reason? Apparently they "see no reason" why their protest should not go ahead. Does that not say EVERYTHING that needs to be said about these idiotic people? Let us never forget these are very dangerous people. Let's make it clear. Animal-rights activists have no proprietary right to morality. In the March issue of Tackle and Guns Sean O'Driscoll the publisher summed it up very nicely "All those people that are concerned about testing on animals, why don't they become the guinea pigs?"

The above is just one example showing the anti's don't care about human or animal life. In fact, they are prepared to kill, such is their twisted mentality. Over the past year or so many of you have no doubt read or listened to the PROPAGANDA from PETA - People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals who have their headquarters in Norfolk Virginia USA This powerful organisation are very anti; anti pets, anti eating meat, anti drinking milk, anti angling and anti shooting and they have millions of dollars in funding. They have now targeted fishing in the UK along with a very small group in UK group known as PISCES. Pisces might be small in number but as we all know empty vessels make the most noise. Let all your pet loving friends know that PETA are against the keeping of pets. That's about thirty eight million pet-owning people.

The difference between the two groups in the UK is the funding available. PETA have millions of dollars much of which is coming from Hollywood's left wing actors and actresses, and, let's not forget, it's all down to propaganda. When it come to propaganda, lies and half truths we only need to cast our minds back to the 1930's and DR Josef Goebbels who was installed in 1933 as Hitler's propaganda chief. Through propaganda put across by Goebbels the German people believed in the NAZI party and everything it stood for. Whenever Goebbels spouted his rhetoric the people followed. If you tell enough lies and half truths then people start to believe it. (Many of our own politicians are quite good at this practice!)

I believe the first assault by PETA on fishing took place some two or three years ago, when Dawn Carr anti-fishing campaign co-ordinator for PETA and Gill the Fish, her piscatorial partner, visited dozens of schools around the United States. Though it seemed common-sense prevailed, only one school let them in. Undeterred, she and Gill, PETA's 6-foot-tall anti-fish mascot, stationed themselves just beyond school property where they passed out literature and told kids about the evils of fishing. Gill let Carr do the talking. She asked the kids: "Is it right to hurt or kill a fish for pleasure?" Their slogan was: 'Look, don't hook'. But I say 'Take a boy or girl fishing, Save the sport and let the kids enjoy their childhood at the waterside'.

Around the same time, The New York Times ran a front-page photograph of African-American kids using cane poles in the R. H. Macy's Fishing Contest which was a catch-and-release event on the lake in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. Animal-rights protesters, mostly middle-aged white people, were moving in a rowing boat right over the kids lines. Their placards read: ANIMAL CRUELTY IS NOT A SPORT and PLEASE BE KIND TO ANIMALS.

For a start let's make it clear we are not talking about warm blooded animals but cold blooded fish with a very low IQ with a tiny bit of cortex in the brain and no nerve endings in the mouth. So where does the pain and cruelty come in? Many of these white middle aged do-gooders cause untold pain and suffering to the wildlife when they spread chemicals on their gardens, so the flowers, plants and lawns look beautiful. They don't care about the slugs, snails etc. they are killing. Which in turn causes a painful and slow death to many thousands of birds and hedgehogs. They only care about themselves. PETA targeting children is very stupid and only part of the strategy.

As PETA and other anti-fishing activists gear up for another year of protest, their tactics are likely to become more confrontational. They will follow the example by a few activists in the UK with their Campaign for the Abolition of Angling. In Europe we can find the anti's very active especially in Germany and Holland. The European greens could also prove dangerous to angling. Which brings me to another point. If you're planning to vote for the Green Party in the coming elections, ask your candidate what their views are on fishing as a sport.

The anti-fishing movement in Germany make a practice of throwing rocks into popular fishing waters and sending scuba divers down to spook the fish. I am also told that all fish caught must be killed. Silly, you say? Sure, but effective. Remember protests have produced fishing bans on some lakes and streams in Europe. Though many of you anglers would like to believe otherwise, PETA's campaign - and the media attention it already attracts - is no joke. It's a serious business and remember, they want to ban the keeping of animals as pets. Including fish in tanks!

This spring, they'll be back. Like it or not, their techniques draw attention as witnessed on BBC Radio's 2 and 4 and lots of free publicity. The activists sense our vulnerability. Sales of fishing licenses are down, lagging behind population growth, particularly among young people. The real threat to fishing is social change and ecological damage, not PETA. But animal rights activists have seized the moment. Let's quit the infighting with other anglers - that would be a good start. It's not about carp angling is best or match fishing is more skilful. It's the culture of fishing. Fly fishers, match anglers, salmon anglers, carp fishers, barbel anglers and sea fishers. We are all anglers. It's not about fresh and salt water anglers, and all the rest who tend to ignore each other, sometimes with disdain. We are just brothers of the angle. It's all about having fun and pleasure at the waterside. Let's stop the back biting. We are all facing a common enemy THE ANTIS !! We must go to war. A war of words. Now is the time to stand up and be counted. We cannot afford to be apathetic

If the enemies of fishing want to divide and conquer anglers, they couldn't do a better job than we anglers are doing among ourselves. When PETA dismisses fishing as trivial, we should pose these questions: If fishing were outlawed tomorrow, what would be the fate of our rivers and streams? Who watches the lakes and streams, particularly those hidden high among the moors and mountains more closely than anglers? Who knows those waters better? Who protects and improves the bankside and watery habitat? One answer ANGLERS

"A persistent error of many of my (anti-angling) students is to claim that they do not 'intervene' in nature," says Michael LaChat, professor of Christian Ethics at the Methodist Theological School of Delaware. "But their shoes, cars, houses, pets, children and even their vegetarian preferences directly and indirectly cause the death of animals. If we have an obligation to future generations for ensuring biodiversity and ecological well-being, then surely we ought to be active managers of fisheries, too. Humans are part of the natural order. By omission or commission, we are predators as well as servers. As a result of our attachment to fishing, he maintains, anglers have a symbiotic relationship with fish. We share incentives to be their stewards, to protect their watersheds and prevent pollution. In fact, no group can match anglers active concern for fish habitat.

In America, conservative Ray Scott, father of the bass tournament culture, and liberal Robert Kennedy, Jr., a founder of the environmental organisation Riverkeeper (which helped save the Hudson River), have joined forces to fight the Coast Guard's nasty habit of dumping toxic batteries in good water. Another model is the Coastal Conservation Association, launched in Texas and now reaching other coastal states. CCA's success is largely due to its efforts to bring saltwater fly-fishermen, bait fishermen, spin casters and other anglers under one roof. In the fishing world, cross-cultural campaigns, though still rare, work.

In November, voters in Virginia and North Dakota quietly and overwhelmingly voted to make hunting and fishing constitutionally protected rights. They weren't joking. Fishing is not trivial. A core tenet of the anti-fishing movement is that sportfishing is based on trivial needs and desires. Indeed, if the only reason that fishers fish is because it's fun, then the anti-anglers have a strong ethical position, according to Professor Michael LaChat. But, depending on the behaviour of the individual angler, fishing is "far from trivial". He lists important benefits of angling: psychological, spiritual, physical and economic nourishment.

In more ways than one, people live because they fish. The American Sportfishing Association reports that 35.3 million anglers spent $38 billion on fishing trips and gear in 1996, up from $24 billion in 1991. Fishing boosts the Texas economy by more than $6 billion annually. Even before Florida's sportfishers led a successful effort to halt most commercial netting, which was destroying the state's fisheries, sportfishing brought more revenue to the State than commercial fishing.

Economic value, however, is the least important attribute of fishing. Though most anglers avoid talking about the spiritual and psychologically healing nature of fishing, every serious angler is aware of it. This aspect of fishing ranges from the personal to the organised. Fishing programs for troubled kids and the mentally ill are remarkably effective. One non-profit program, Casting for Recovery, teaches fly-fishing to breast cancer survivors.

"You should see these women's eyes as, out in the natural world, they learn to cast - that graceful, mesmerising, hypnotic thing of beauty," says Margot Page, a noted fly-fisher who serves on the board of Casting for Recovery. She also finds fishing healing for herself. "I almost hate to say fishing. I'd rather call it water treatment. Yes, it's about the line and these wild flashes of light you see in the stream, but it's really the water that we go to and the water we've always gone to. For some kind of solace, for understanding, for cleansing, for rebirth." What we seek, when we fish, is not trivial. Eating fish isn't a sin.

How many young people today know anyone who lives on a farm? Many of today's kids don't believe milk come from cows. They think it just happens to be in plastic bottle. At a recent inner city country fair I heard one mother say to her two young children "Looks at the goats". Those goats were sheep. "When I was a youngster, during and after World War II, most of us boys and the occasional girl would have a vegetable garden to look after. We also had a fishing rod, perhaps a shotgun, air rifles, air pistols, catapults, bows and arrows. We would use all these things in trying to kill a wood pigeon, rabbit, duck or pheasant or catch a fish. It was food on the table and a lot of fun.

In America before and during world war 2 it was a 410 shotgun or .22, and a fishing rod," says John Bowman, a retired teacher and devoted fly-fisherman. "I remember people hunting cottontail rabbits, quail and dove, or they'd surf-cast or catch freshwater fish - all to supplement their family's diets. That time is gone. "Today, well-fed Americans can afford the luxury of ethical debate. Vegetarianism is an honourable choice. But is our emotional and intellectual detachment from the source of our food ethical? All Americans, including the non-vegan vegetarians who eat fish, should be aware that fish are not born wrapped in cellophane, that they once lived and that their sacrifice nourishes us. Nothing teaches that ethic as effectively as fishing. Fishing saves fish. Ultimately, children represent our strongest moral argument and greatest challenge.

Very rarely is a kid is likely to get in serious trouble if he or she is holding a fishing rod. What happens when we take that rod away? For generations, fishing skills were passed down from generation to generation, but that heritage may be fading. Parents are either too busy to take their kids fishing, or they're disconnected from nature themselves. The kind of personal freedom and access to nature that so many of us enjoyed when we were children is disappearing fast. One young lad who used to come fishing with me now sits at home in front of his PC playing a fishing game. As he told me "It's nice and warm indoors so I don't get wet and cold". If we allow PETA, environmental degradation, or any other force to prevent kids from fishing, we only accelerate that process. The rising average age of anglers is eroding and the financial support for conservation is shrinking. Yes, fishing is messy, morally messy, but no child can truly know or value nature if the natural world remains under glass, seen only through a binocular lens, television screen or computer monitor. To begin to fathom the paradoxes of wildlife, the beauty and horror of nature, the sweetness of life and the necessity of death, children must get their hands dirty and their feet wet. There is no other way. And no better instruction than river dipping and fishing with Dad or Granddad.

American anglers have lobbied for and won the removal of dams, allowing streams and rivers to once again run free. Indeed, some of the most convincing evidence came from the logs kept by anglers and their grandparents and great grandparents. For decades these logs revealed the damage dams cause to wild fish populations. Such efforts not only benefit fish but the entire ecosystem. It's anglers that care and improve the habitat, not PETA with their very blinkered outlook on life. When did you see them up to their chests in cold muddy water doing habitat work?.

As we strengthen our commitment to watershed and fish habitat, we strengthen our moral authority to ask this additional question of the anti-fishing lobby: How many rivers have you saved lately? Tell the truth about pain. The most challenging argument posed by anti-angling activists, is that fish feel pain, and that fishing poses a cruel and unusual punishment on animals. PETA frequently quotes "The Medway Report" which states: "The evidence suggests that all vertebrates (including fish) experience similar sensation to a greater or lesser degree in response to noxious stimuli". PETA literature also quotes Tom Hopkins, a professor of marine science at the University of Alabama: "It's like dentistry without Novocain, drilling into exposed nerves. They experience agony parallel to our own." Nonetheless, the neurological evidence is far from clear. Some researchers point out that fish brains do not have structures comparable with the human neocortex, therefore fish are unlikely to consciously experience pain.

Martin James